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n Determining Sample Size

Determining Sample Size: Basic principles Determining the sample size depends on many things. It requires much more thought than any theoretical discussion portrays. • What is being sampled? • How the sample is taken? • The cost of the sampling • The timing of when an answer is needed • The situation and reliability necessary • The consequences of making a wrong decision • The theory

Sample Representativeness vs Sample Accuracy n n n How representative a sample of the population is determined by the sampling method or plan Sample accuracy refers to how close the statistic, generated from the sample data, is to the true population value the statistic is estimating Sample accuracy is related to the size of the sample

Central Limit Theorem n n The Central Limit Theorem states that if we take many samples, of at least size 30, then the means from these samples will form a normal distribution It is this THEORETICAL SAMPLING DISTRIBUTION (a NORMAL curve) that allows us to use statistical inference

Methods to Determine Sample Size n n n Arbitrary Approach (10% of the population) Conventional Approach (What others have done ) Cost Basis Approach (How many does budget allow? ) Statistical Analysis Approach (Adequate for subgroup analysis) Confidence Interval Approach (Allows us to predetermine how precise our estimates are)

Determining Sample Size n n n What size sample do I need? The answer to this question is influenced by a number of factors, including the purpose of the study, population size, the risk of selecting a "bad" sample, and the allowable sampling error Three criteria will need to be specified to determine the appropriate sample size: n n n the level of precision the level of confidence or risk the degree of variability in the attributes being measured

Precision and Confidence n n Precision n refers to how close the sample estimate is to the true population characteristic depends on the variablity in the sampling distribution of the mean, i. e the standard error n indicates the confidence interval within which the population mean can be estimated Confidence n reflects the level of certainty that the sample estimates will actually hold true for the population n bias is absent from the data n accuracy is reflected by the confidence level

The Level Of Precision n n Sometimes called sampling error, is the range in which the true value of the population is estimated to be This range is often expressed in percentage points, (e. g. , ± 5 percent) n If a researcher finds that 60% of farmers in the sample have adopted a recommended practice with a precision rate of ± 5%, then he or she can conclude that between 55% and 65% of farmers in the population have adopted the practice

The Confidence Level n The confidence or risk level is based on ideas encompassed under the Central Limit Theorem n n n when a population is repeatedly sampled, the average value of the attribute obtained by those samples is equal to the true population value The values obtained by these samples are distributed normally about the true value, with some samples having a higher value and some obtaining a lower score than the true population value In a normal distribution, approximately 95% of the sample values are within two standard deviations of the true population value (e. g. , mean).

The Confidence Level n n n This means that, if a 95% confidence level is selected, 95 out of 100 samples will have the true population value within the range of precision specified earlier There is always a chance that the sample you obtain does not represent the true population value. Such samples with extreme values are represented by the shaded areas in Figure 1 This risk is reduced for 99% confidence levels and increased for 90% (or lower) confidence levels.

The Confidence Level (Figure 1)

Roscoe’s Rules of Thumb for Determining Sample Size n n Sample sizes larger than 30 and smaller than 500 are appropriate for most research Minimum sample size of 30 for each sub-category is usually necessary In multivariate research, the sample size should be several times as large as the number of variables in the study For simple experimental research, successful research is possible with samples as small as 10 to 20

Degree Of Variability n n n The degree of variability in the attributes being measured refers to the distribution of attributes in the population The more heterogeneous a population, the larger the sample size required to obtain a given level of precision The less variable (more homogeneous) a population, the smaller the sample size

Degree Of Variability n n Note that a proportion of 50% indicates a greater level of variability than either 20% or 80%. This is because 20% and 80% indicate that a large majority do not or do, respectively, have the attribute of interest Because a proportion of 0. 5 indicates the maximum variability in a population, it is often used in determining a more conservative sample size, that is, the sample size may be larger than if the true variability of the population attribute were used

Strategies for Determining Sample Size n Using A Census For Small Populations n n Use the entire population as the sample Although cost considerations make this impossible for large populations, a census is attractive for small populations (e. g. , 200 or less) A census eliminates sampling error and provides data on all the individuals in the population Virtually the entire population would have to be sampled in small populations to achieve a desirable level of precision.

Strategies for Determining Sample Size n Using A Sample Size Of A Similar Study n n n Use the sample size as those of studies similar to the one you plan Without reviewing the procedures employed in these studies you may run the risk of repeating errors that were made in determining the sample size for another study However, a review of the literature in your discipline can provide guidance about "typical" sample sizes which are used

Strategies for Determining Sample Size n Using Published Tables n n Rely on published tables which provide the sample size for a given set of criteria First, these sample sizes reflect the number of obtained responses, and not necessarily the number of surveys mailed or interviews planned Second, the sample sizes presume that the attributes being measured are distributed normally or nearly so If this assumption cannot be met, then the entire population may need to be surveyed.

Using Formulas To Calculate A Sample Size n n Formula For Calculating A Sample For Proportions For populations that are large, Cochran (1963: 75) developed the Equation 1 to yield a representative sample for proportions

Using Formulas To Calculate A Sample Size n n n Which is valid where n 0 is the sample size Z 2 is the abscissa of the normal curve that cuts off an area at the tails (1 - equals the desired confidence level, e. g. , 95%) e is the desired level of precision, p is the estimated proportion of an attribute that is present in the population, q is 1 -p The value for Z is found in statistical tables which contain the area under the normal curve

Using Formulas To Calculate A Sample Size - Example n n To illustrate, suppose we wish to evaluate a state-wide Extension program in which farmers were encouraged to adopt a new practice Assume there is a large population but that we do not know the variability in the proportion that will adopt the practice Therefore, assume p=. 5 (maximum variability) Furthermore, suppose we desire a 95% confidence level and ± 5% precision.

Using Formulas To Calculate A Sample Size - Example

Using Formulas To Calculate A Sample Size Finite Population Correction For Proportions n n n If the population is small then the sample size can be reduced slightly This is because a given sample size provides proportionately more information for a small population than for a large population. The sample size (n 0) can be adjusted using Equation 2 below Where n is the sample size and N is the population size.

Using Formulas To Calculate A Sample Size Finite Population Correction For Proportions n n n Suppose our evaluation of farmers' adoption of the new practice only affected 2, 000 farmers The sample size that would now be 323 farmers As you can see, this adjustment (called the finite population correction) can substantially reduce the necessary sample size for small populations

Using Formulas To Calculate A Sample Size A Simplified Formula For Proportions n n Yamane (1967: 886) provides a simplified formula to calculate sample sizes This formula uses a 95% confidence level and P =. 5 are assumed

Using Formulas To Calculate A Sample Size – Other Considerations n n n Another consideration with sample size is the number needed for the data analysis If descriptive statistics are to be used, e. g. , mean, frequencies, then nearly any sample size will suffice On the other hand, a good size sample, e. g. , 200500, is needed for multiple regression, analysis of covariance, or log-linear analysis, which might be performed for more rigorous state impact evaluations

Using Formulas To Calculate A Sample Size – Other Considerations n n The sample size formulas provide the number of responses that need to be obtained Many researchers commonly add 10% to the sample size to compensate for persons that the researcher is unable to contact The sample size also is often increased by 30% to compensate for nonresponse Thus, the number of mailed surveys or planned interviews can be substantially larger than the number required for a desired level of confidence and precision

Using Formulas To Calculate A Sample Size – Reference n Glenn D. Israel, Department of Agricultural Education and Communication, and extension specialist, Program Evaluation and Organizational Development, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), University of Florida, Gainesville, June 2003